In This Review

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present
By David Treuer
528 pp, Riverhead Books, 2019
Purchase

Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, still in print half a century after its original publication, presented the story of Native Americans as one of tragic decline. Treuer’s counternarrative is destined to last at least as long as Brown’s classic. Its story of resilience and cultural, economic, and political renaissance among native communities will be revelatory for most readers who are not Native American. Treuer, who grew up on an Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota, combines interviews, personal memoir, history, and literature to vividly trace the last 40 years of Native American history, including many positive developments. There is plenty of tragedy in the story of Native Americans’ relationship with the U.S. government, most of which stems from Washington’s various efforts to subdue or wipe out the tribes. But there are also glimmers of hope. For example, U.S. military service has provided a positive sense of belonging for many Native Americans, even though their heroism has often gone unrecognized. Continuing legal battles have righted some past wrongs. Treuer interweaves his analysis with intimate tales of “becoming Indian” in a context in which that identity can bring empowerment and personal success rather than victimization.